“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

Israel, as a people, had heard the promise of rest preached to them since Abraham. It was the gospel really, the message of God working to provide for his people and grant them rest. But stuck in the wilderness, with the utmost of provision and even God’s presence, the people did not have faith. They didn’t believe and they died in the desert.

We hear the same preaching. The calls of Jesus to come to him and rest. We are given eternal life and are commanded to have joy, yet we are in danger of lacking belief in rest. We turn inward on ourselves and attempt to reach perfection through our own work and we never rest. And it is not that we are not called to strive, but what we strive for is different.

“We are to strive to do something even more difficult (than work). We are to strive to enter into rest. “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11). We are to strive to turn our hearts away from the false security of slavery and toward his great work through his Son. We must strive to remind ourselves continually of the work that’s already been done. If we don’t, we will fall into the “same sort of disobedience” the Israelites succumbed to.”

“It is this rest, and this rest only, that will cause you to willingly accept his yoke. It is only from a position of rest, as a beloved daughter or son, that you will learn what it means to be his. You will see him as he is, not as a severe taskmaster, demanding what you cannot give. You will see him as he is, a gentle and lowly servant. Day after day you will see life with him as it is, a refreshing reception of delight and joyful service. Every day with him is easy; his burdens are light because he has borne the labor. He carried the heavy burden for you. Strive today to shed the yoke of the law and believe that his is that good. Accept his invitation: “Come to me and I will give you rest.”

Lenten devotion from Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Day 26.


Abide in the Vine

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9

Many of us are simply incapable of resting. No, not the sleeping or sitting on the couch type of resting, I mean spiritual resting. Resting in the completed work of Christ. And not just for your salvation (justification) but also you holy life. As the author of Hebrews says, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14 ESV) This is awesome… He, Jesus, has perfected me for eternity, it is done, even in the midst of my being changed to be more like him. Notice I am not the one doing the work here. Don’t hear me wrongly; we are called to be obedient but we are not the ones making the change, doing the work of transformation. We can rest in that it is done by another, and he has a great track record.

If we learn to rest in this way then, what does it mean for us to “abide?”

“Yes, I know I need to abide in him, but what exactly does that entail? Should I pray more, relax more, obey more? What does this metaphor tell me about how to bear fruit? What can we learn from the vineyard?”

“…I overlook the truth that it’s his power that births and sustains the entire plant. He’s supplying all that’s necessary for my growth and fruitfulness. It’s his life, his purpose, his determination to be in union with me that’s the central point of this teaching. This teaching isn’t about what I must do. Yes, there is a command here, but it’s basically a command simply to receive. What does that little stem need to do? If it stays attached to the vine, it will naturally grow into a fruit-producing branch. If it is broken off, it will die. It needs to abide.”

“For a moment take your focus off yourself and what you think you might need to do and rejoice in the promise inherent in this passage. Your fruitfulness is assured. Because your union isn’t with a sickly, barren vine but rather with a robust and fertile one, you will produce fruit, the fruit he’s ordained for you (Eph. 2:10).”

Lenten devotion from Comforts for the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Day 20.